Switzerland, the most likely place to think of when it comes to watches. But don’t forget Japan, the United States, and Great Britain; all historically significant countries in the rich history of watchmaking. One thing that’s so great about this business is that there are brands from places you wouldn’t expect at all! How about our own Dutch Grönefeld’s, or the Swedish team of Gustafson & Sjögren? Or, as we’re talking about unusual locations; Tel Aviv based Itay Noy?
Itay Noy is the founder and watchmaker behind the brand from Israel. We have not covered his work before, but he has been making watches under his own name since the year 2000, and launches a new collection just about every year. Everything is made to order and most of his production runs are limited to 99 pieces each. They are designed, built and scrutinized by him personally, before being shipped out to his customers. This sort of personal touch is what is so attractive to independent brands, brands that do not rely on vast, and often slow, executive teams to make boardroom decisions.
One thing that sets his work apart from many other brands is the creativity that goes into watches. He often chooses a thought provoking theme and tries to incorporate that into a watch that is quite recognizable in terms of being an Itay Noy. (If you are familiar with his work of course) Some previous examples are the X-ray, in which the dial is engraved with a pattern to mimic the movement underneath, the Duality which features two watches in one with a double-sided strap as well, or the Point of View that shows a map of the world with an unexpected centered location or various religious symbols portrayed in a skeletonized dial.
For the 2015 edition of Baselworld, Itay Noy presented a new collection: the Part Time collection. The concept is simple yet intriguing in its execution. Basically, the dial is split into two and indicates daytime on one side, and nighttime on the other. The result is provoking to say the least.
The funky creation is available in two different versions, which in turn are available in two different colors, resulting in four options to choose from. On one hand, the DN-models have a Day and Night side for the dial available in silver and black or light and dark blue. On the other hand, the SM-models have a Sun and Moon side with a full colored dial in either blue or off-white. The display for both types in the collection takes some explaining, since it is an unusual display of time. What you should first imprint in your thoughts is that on all models the time between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. are displayed on the left, and the time between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the right.
The Day & Night models have a sun and moon discs at nine and three o’clock to indicate which timeframe of the watch is “active”. When the yellow sun is out, it is daytime and when the moon is out it is nighttime. Stylized rays of sunlight emphasize the sun disc and the moon disc is accompanied by a patterned night sky. Pretty simple right? The hours are displayed by a disc behind the window above the sun and moon, and only indicate the corresponding hours for day and night. When it is nighttime, the daytime window does not display any hour digits and vice versa. A central minute hand, an extra hours dial at 5 o’clock and a subsidiary seconds dial at 7 o’clock completes the timing indication.
The Sun & Moon models feature a full colored dial as mentioned. Time is still split between 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. but with a slightly different finish. A sun and moon disc is portrayed through the porthole between 9 and 10 o’clock, indicating day- or nighttime. Hours are displayed between 2 and 3 o’clock. Again, the indication of time is completed with a centrally placed minute indication, the subsidiary seconds dial and the added hours dial. Finishing touches like the brand logo at 12, or the limited number at 6 o’clock round off the entire display. Still struggling with reading the time, or grasping the entire concept? Perhaps this short video helps.
Making a Case
The Part Time collection features a three-piece case construction in 316L stainless steel. All models measure 41.6mm in diameter (44.6mm lug-to-lug), and 10.6 in height. Something of a trademark for Itay Noy’s designs are the externally protruding screw mounts that hold the case together. The crown is placed at 4 o’clock and grips easily due to the knurled surface. Both front and back of the Part Time are covered by sapphire crystal. Each watch that leaves the workshop in Tel Aviv comes attached on a leather strap, designed by Itay himself. A folding buckle ensures a snug and secure fit to the wrist.
The see-through caseback allows for a full view on the movement, which is an ETA Unitas 6498. Besides using fairly standard and simple movement, the module that is placed on top of it to break-up the indications into individual displays is made in-house by Itay himself, as is the entire dial. To use this type of movement doesn’t diminish the attractiveness of the Part Time timepieces or any of Itay’s other collections one bit. It is a sensible choice, as it drastically cuts the price to an affordable level, and it remains a tried and tested workhorse. Speaking in terms of prices, each Itay Noy Part Time is available at 4.800 USD.
One can make the case for smaller houses’ build quality lacking the luster of the major players in the industry… debatable on both sides of the table (I’ve seen pictures of brand new watches leaving some prestigious factories with ‘spare parts’ in places you’d hardly expect.) And yes, there are more complicated watches available. You can even discuss how intuitive reading of time in this particular watch, but the most important thing remains: it is an artist’s expression. You might not get “it” or you might not feel this is something for you, but at least it adds a quirky little twist to the wide variety of watches out there. Ultimately these smaller brands exist to present something different from the minds of the men and women who make them and say something different about the men and women who wear them.